Days spent – 10 days (8 June 2016 to 18 June 2016)

Places visited – London

Books read – Homage to Catalonia (unfinished)

Things done – British Museum, Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, Primrose Hill, Churchill’s War Rooms, Trooping of the Colour, Imperial War Museum, EU debate, Westminster Abbey

Highlight(s) – Tower of London

Lowlight(s) – the beggar

Cost – £412.21 (£41.22 per day)

So on the eighth of June 2016 I departed on my journey into and through the unknown. All feelings up to the seventh had been excitement mixed with a little nervousness and apprehension. All of a sudden things become slightly different the following day. It gets real that I hop of the train in four hours… After taking a few photos of home I embark on the train. The first hour on the train to London is probably the strangest I’ve ever felt. Months of planning but an hour in and it feels as though my world is falling apart. Apparently this is normal but in no way was I prepared for it! I almost felt human there for a moment…

Thankfully, that feeling dissipates faster than I thought it might and soon enough I’m in London seeking out my first hostel experience for twenty years or so. In typical British fashion, despite leaving in fair weather, upon arrival in London it’s raining, hard. The Underground it is then. I head for the nearest stop to my hostel, with my head above ground the rain has mercifully stopped.

The first night in the hostel is strange, downstairs it has a bar with Sky Sports, given that the Euros are on it seems a no brainer… My journal entry of the first day remarks that I’ve gone travelling to escape Sky Sports and end up watching, Sky, Sports!

Having read up a bit on travel before leaving I learnt that it’s not where you go or what you see, it’s the people you meet. Which brings me on to thanking Eu, Calum and John (and the others) for making my time at Seven Sisters hostel enjoyable (in the main eh Calum!?). Hostel life in strange in some ways but in others it’s just great. Such a mix of people, some of whom were living at the hostel and commuting to work from there.  I wish them every bit of luck.

On the afternoon following the England v Wales Euro game I was a little drunk (lunchtime kick off but before my lunch!), four pints on an empty stomach.  I need to the classy establishment that is ‘Spoons for some much needed food!  There I end up chatting to two sets of great guys about football, the EU and travel plans.  Stephen – I bet you thought you’d never hear from me but here we are…  Unfortunately, they both bought a round before I could repay the favour, next time I’m in London, they’re on me guys!

There’s one other person that I met in London that warrants a mention here and that’s Becky. We ended up sat next to each other at the EU debate I went to in Waterstones (this was before we voted). She was reading A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks (who wrote Birdsong which I’ve read) so we got chatting and ended up going for a drink after. It was great chatting to her but for some reason we didn’t exchange contact information. She heads to Vietnam in November on an organised trip so maybe we’ll accidentally meet in this small world of ours as that’s roughly when I intend to be there. The following week Waterstones was holding an event by Sarah Knight entitled “The life-changing magic of not giving a f**k.” I would have liked to have attended but maybe I don’t need to!

I suppose I should pass some comment on the things I did. One of the positives of London is that it doesn’t charge for most of the museums etc. I guess that’ll suffice for our centuries of exploitation and conquest: ‘Come and see the things we stole from you for free’. But make sure you spend lots of pounds in the process! The highlight was the Tower of London (see my other blog), Westminster Abbey and The British Museum were also both great. I knew the Rosetta Stone was in The British Museum but I didn’t know that we ‘acquired’ it from France’s Napoleonic forces. It was probably on its way to The Louvre!

In terms of food, I didn’t have anything too adventurous but I did have fish and chips outside the Tower of London, what could be more British I ask? Although, to be fair, the were among the poorest I’ve eaten.

A quick note on costs: it would be higher but a few London things are free, also my transport costs are low because I was only in London and not really travelling around.

I also feel like I should elaborate on the lowlight: the beggar. I was waiting at a bus stop (after, I’m sure, the first of many logisitical mishaps!). He’s after money to help treat a wound on his leg. I say “I’m sorry, I haven’t got any cash (I try to limit what I carry).” To which his response is “How are you getting on the bus then you c**t?” To which I say “With my card!” That’s London for you…

Strawbs – written 9 July 2016, published 14 July 2016

P.S: Mum – sorry about the swearing but they were quotations in both instances!

London by night 

Rosetta Stone

Well played Just Eat!

Imperial War Museum guns

We can but dream, hust ignore the Zimbabwe bit!

One of Churchill’s maps

An interesting piece from a museum, an artist and doctor put this together.  It’s all the pills an average person takes in their lifetime.  It’s about 11 metres long…

Crazy London I – naked cyclists

Crazy London II – pretty sure the above cyclists don’t give a…

# hostel life

Now I see where George R R Martin got his idea for Daenerys’s multiple titles. Interesting fact a magnum is two bottles, but a Nebuchadnezzar is twenty, he must have been a right lad!